Tag Archives: war

The Dirty Habit

Max would have to  choose for Mary – Ed or Ted? She couldn’t have them both but how could she give one up since she loved them both in equal measure. Easy – send Ed to France and leave Ted the happy chore of singing and executing the song “Come Josephine in My Flying Machine.” Ted takes Mary in his Curtiss triplane on a sight-seeing trip over London and 100 miles down the Thames to a 300-year-old Inn called the Dirty Habit (grease spots on a Monk’s habit). Mary succumbs; it will be Ted.

Max did not invent The Dirty Habit; he and Liddy lunched there in 2001 as part of their Great Cities of Europe cruise. Who knew it would turn up in a novel?

As Ted and Mary frolic in Kent, Ed and Steed are mucking through the mud in Flanders Fields – the Ypres salient, the most dangerous place in the 1917 world; Ed has convinced Steed that there is a story to be told of Mary’s brothers, Tommy and Ian, manning an observation post in no-man’s land.

The first half of THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE winds to a calamitous end as Ted flies with the Lafayette Escadrille, and Ed loses an eye in the final 30,000 man infantry charge at Pilckem  Ridge in southern Belgium.

A journalist can function nicely with only one eye as Ed Frederick demonstrates in the second half of THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE.


In Flanders Fields the Poppies Blow

Between the crosses, row on row.

The cover of THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE shows the row on row of crosses, but no poppies, at the Aisne Marne American Cemetery near the village of Belleau, France, where 2,289 doughboys were interred following the battle of Belleau Wood in June, 1918. The photo was taken by Max Blue in 1970, and almost certainly is one reason why Max began to write about World War I.

The War Guilt ClauseSo. Flanders Fields. Is that where Ted and Ed Frederick, and Mary Cady want to go? Mary’s brothers, Tommy and Ian, are already there with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment of Haig’s Third Army. And yes, that’s where the youngsters want to go, as wild and reckless as that may seem. Mary will settle for a spot as a student in the University of London Middlesex Hospital Medical School, thanks to the generosity of Colonel House. Wickham Steed has taken the Frederick twins under his wing and makes all the arrangements for them to  reach England and for Ted to begin flight training at the British School of Military Aeronautics near Oxford, and for Ed to begin journalistic training under. who else? Wickham Steed.

You see how easy it is to write a novel? The War Guilt Clause.

Rotogravure and the Lafayette Escadrille

The images in the Sunday New York Times Rotogravure section were stunning; muddy trenches, soup-plate helmeted soldiers standing in ankle-deep water, devastated landscapes dotted with leafless tree trunks – the Western Front brought to the living rooms of peaceful citizens all over the boroughs; a ghastly air view of a poisonous gas cloud rolling toward a line of trenches. Images and articles about the Lafayette Escadrille.

The 16 year-old Frederick twins, especially Ted, wanted to fly with the Lafayette Escadrille – it would be a glorious escapade to join the knights of the sky jousting over the bloody battlefields. A group of college students had the idea first – when the European war erupted in 1914, long before the U.S. came in, these young adventurers found a way to get in the fight – they joined the fabled French Foreign Legion. French diplomats saw a way to inflame American public opinion to their cause – they organized a group of eight wide-eyed young Americans into what they called the American Flying Squadron – The Escadrille Americaine. Within a year there were 32 and they asked to be called The Lafayette Escadrille to honor the memory of the Marquis de Lafayette, the young French General who joined George Washington’s struggling revolutionaries in America’s war for independence.

Okay, Max, how are you going to get the twins into the air over France?

Stay tuned

The Zimmerman Telegram

As a blogger looking for something to write it would be easy to continue summarizing THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE chapter by chapter, but what I really want to do is put the reader into the mind of the author – where did the ideas come from? When did the narrative begin to take shape? I may have mentioned this before, but  Max Blue is of the novelist school that writes from stream of consciousness as opposed to working from a detailed outline. Max begins with  a tightly wound ball of twine embedded with an encyclopedia of life experiences that often show up on the page  embellished with imaginative romps, and unwinds the story as he goes. A historical novel requires a library of references and THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE is no exception.  The New York Times archives was the primary reference but it turned out that the Rowan University library also housed the microfilm archives of The Times of London which furnished material crucial to the story. And then there was Barbara Tuchman’s captivating account of THE ZIMMERMAN TELEGRAM; it was a goldmine for Max, introducing him to Colonel Edward House, President Wilson’s minister without portfolio who thought he knew German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmerman, but did not. Thank you also Mrs. Tuchman for the spectacular Bohemian spy, Voska, and for the less colorful but wonderfully named  Wickham Steed. Mrs. Tuchman introduced Steed as the Times Foreign Editor but it seems somebody forgot to tell her he was Foreign Editor of the Times of London, not the New York Times. Max stumbled across this knowledge after the book was published, but only purists would object as Wickham Steed and his wide experience became a major factor in the novel.

The War Guilt Clause

Okay, I’m going to start over with The War Guilt Clause – it’s the name of Max Blue’s 10th novel and I should say here at the beginning, that there are those who will read this and wonder why Paul Fritz is writing in the third person and pretending that Max Blue is somebody else. The truth is just that – Max Blue is somebody else – born full grown more than 20 years ago and writing furiously ever since, trying to get it all down before it’s too late. So enough with FL and all that – call me Max.

Thanks to daughter Katie, who continues to find new ways to keep me busy, I am here on WordPress. I hope to get it sorted out quickly but I believe I am allowed to write blogs on different subjects and keep them separate, hopefully to avoid confusion. I begin with three categories – (1) The War Guilt Clause, (2) The Luminous Liddy, (3) Baseball. The War Guilt Clause is first because its blog presence is time dependent – after Tate Publishing formally releases it in October, it will mostly have to speak for itself. But there is a big pre-publication push, with special deals and all, featuring a nifty website.

The other two categories, The Luminous Liddy, and Baseball, are more enduring – no time frame, just continuous pleasure to be savored and never taken for granted.

So. The War Guilt Clause. Where did it come from? What’s it all about?

War is a subject that Max, in his earlier incarnation, was exposed to almost continuously, first in the 1930s, less than twenty years after the 1918 Armistice ended the carnage on the Western Front, with stories from surviving veterans, and an avalanche of Hollywood movies – Yankee Doodle Dandy, What Price, Glory?, All Quiet On the Western Front, Wings, The Fighting 69th, Sergeant York.

Then came Pearl Harbor. Max was 12 years-old on December 7, 1941, but remembers exactly where he was and what he was doing on that Sunday morning in East Peoria, Illinois when the news came through. The next four years were a daily reminder of death, destruction, fear, anxiety, and all the emotions attached to a country that, with near unanimous support of the citizens, believed that the United States and all it stood for, was the only thing standing between a world of consummate evil, and a world of peace and domestic tranquility. Hollywood did its part to be sure – Guadalcanal Diary stands out as a movie that sent young Max shuddering in disbelief and nightmarish fear. Max documented some of this in his first novel, For Those In Peril On The Sea.

The Korean War was next and Max was in it, and ultimately sat down to write about it, leaving out tons of detail – Cold Front Passing Hokkaido was published in 2008.

The Kennedy years, the tumultuous 1960s, with the Vietnam War and all, were background for Max and Liddy as they struggled to make a safe home for Katie, Keri, Konrad, Kurt, and Bobtail. More about that later.